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Essays on trans, intersex, cis and other persons and topics from a trans perspective.......All human life is here.

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    Shan Ratnam was of Ceylonese Tamil descent, and was born in Jaffna where his mother came from, although his father's family had lived in Malaysia for three generations. From the age of six months he lived in Kuala Lumpur.

    Ratnam's father was ordered to be beheaded by the occupying Japanese in 1942, but was saved by a Japanese woman married to an Indian man. His mother died at age 38 during the Occupation from rectum cancer, as did his youngest sibling from tuberculosis meningitis. This inspired him to become a doctor.

    He trained at the Singapore General Hospital from 1959, and began teaching at the University of Singapore in 1963. He studied at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London where he earned MRCOG and FRCS in 1964. He then became Professor and Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Singapore in the new Singapore independent of the UK and then in secession from Malaysia.

    In 1969 Ratnam was pestered by Shonna who was desirous to have sex change surgery. He became intrigued by the possibility, read the literature and finally practised the operation on two cadavers in the mortuary. He had Shonna evaluated by a team of psychiatrists who confirmed that she was indeed transsexual. Legal clearance was sought from the ministry of health and granted. Surgery was performed 30 July 1971 at the Kandang Kerbau Hospital 竹脚妇幼医院. This was the first such operation in east Asia.

    A Gender Identity Clinic was set up headed by Prof Ratnam, who ran it until his retirement in 1995, when it was passed to his nephew, Dr. Anandakumar. In 30 years more than 300 sex change operations were performed.

    In 1972 Ratnam's gynaecology department was recognized by the World Health Organization as one of 13 outstanding research centres in human reproduction. In 1983 Ratnam did the first Asian In-vitro fertilization. In 1987 the first Asian live birth from a frozen embryo. In 1989 the world's first live birth after microinjection, and in 1991 the world's first infant born via human ampullary coculture. He published 596 research papers in internationally refereed journals, 396 in local and regional refereed journals, 138 chapters in books and 795 presentations at conferences. In 1996, Ratnam was appointed as Emeritus Professor. In 2000, the Shan S. Ratnam Professorship endowment was set up to award internationally recognised O& G specialists annually.

    He developed heart complications and died of pneumonia at the age of 73.

    After his death the Gender identity Clinic was quietly closed on the excuse that the gynaecologist in charge had left for private practice. The Ministry of Health had been pushing for closure for some years. However petitions from the trans community supported by local media resulted in the Clinic re-opening in 2003.

    Other patients include: Wu Mingen(Li Jiang)
    • S. S. Ratnam, Victor H. H. Goh & Wing Foo Tsoi. Cries from Within: Transsexualism, Gender Confusion and Sex Change. Singapore: Longman, 1991.
    EN.WIKIPEDIA    EN.WIKIPEDIA(Transgender people in Singapore)  SgWiki     SingaporeInfopedia

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    Jonathan Roughgarden was raised in New Jersey. He did a BSC at the University of Rochester, and a PhD at Harvard, both in Biology. He taught at Stanford university from 1972, and did field work studying Caribbean lizards.

    The last book as Jonathan was Primer of Ecological Theory, 1997. In 1998, at the age of 52, Jonathan came out as transsexual.

    "It became clear to me that I wasn't ever going to figure out how to do the guy thing. Imagine as a woman if you'd set out to be a man, to learn how to live as a man. Could you do it? I couldn't. It's like asking a fish to fly."
    She took a sabbatical and returned as Joan. She soon noticed how she was now much more frequently interrupted, ignored and condescended to by men.   At a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Minneapolis a prominent expert jumped up on the stage after her talk and started shouting at her. Once every month or two, she said, ''I will have some man shout at me, try to physically coerce me into stopping …When I was doing the marine ecology work, they did not try to physically intimidate me and say, 'You have not read all the literature.'“

    Undeterred by this, she ran for San Francisco's District 6 Supervisor in 2000.

    In 2003 gay neurobiologist Simon LeVay had a temporary position at Stanford, and invited both Roughgarden and North American Man Boy Love Association to address the same class under the title 'minority sexualities'. She declined in that "being transgendered was not an expression of sexuality". He rescheduled her but spoke for 45 minutes giving what she could only regard as "an appallingly incorrect account of presumed biological bases to gender differences".

    Roughgarden was one of many trans academics who was appalled by Michael Bailey's The Man who Would be Queen, 2003, and wrote a critique of it:
    "From a transgender perspective, Bailey's claim that all transgendered women match one of these two profiles is clearly counterfactual. Many transgendered women come out late in life and yet are sexually oriented to men, many come out early in life and yet are oriented to women, many who are oriented to women are attractive nonetheless, many have changed direction of sexual orientation when they transitioned, many are bisexual, and many are not sexually active. Transgendered women also encompass heterogeneity in occupation, presentation, temperament, sexual history, and ethnicity. Furthermore, transgendered people are not as fixated on sex as Bailey evidently is. The need to locate in the social and occupational space of one's gender identity, to live as a woman, is a stronger motivation for many transgendered women than is attaining sexual pleasure. … Bailey has no data, none at all. He offers no surveys, no data tables, no statistics, nothing. He doesn't give the sample size for the 'study' he refers to occasionally. No references are offered to primary literature either. Six transgendered people are mentioned by name (pseudonym). Bailey did not take detailed and rigorous notes when interviewing these subjects, and relies on his recollection of their meetings. This sample is highly non-representative because the women he interviewed he met while 'cruising' (p. 141) in 'the Baton, Chicago's premier female impersonator club,' (p. 186) leading to an occupational and socio-economic bias."
    Roughgarden's next book was to be published by Princeton University Press, but she found that they were using LeVay as a reviewer and that he wanted the critical material about the search for a gay gene removed and in fact that he wanted "to reduce my book into a David-Attenborough-like nature book about gay animals, related by a transgendered woman". She moved her book to the University of California Press where it came out in 2004 as Evolution’s Rainbow. It argues for a correction to Darwin’s theory of sexual selection taking into account the varieties of gay and trans behavior found in most species. It also puts transgender behavior in the context of traditional alternate gender roles in traditional societies, and evaluates the estimated statistics. It argues for social selection rather than the Darwinian sexual selection oriented on the selfish gene, competition and deception. She further developed this approach in The Genial Gene, 2009.

    Roughgarden is also a Christian and has written on the relationship between Christianity and evolution.

    She retired Emerita in 2011, and moved to Hawai'i where she became an adjunct professor at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology.
    • Carol Kaesuk Yoon. “A Theorist With Personal Experience of the Divide Between the Sexes” The New York Times, October 17, 2000.
    • Joan Roughgarden. "Making connections re psychologist Simon LeVay". Email to Lynn Conway, 11 Jul 2003.
    • Joan Roughgarden. The Bailey Affair: Psychology Perverted. February 11, 2004. Online at:
    • Joan Roughgarden, Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People. University of California Press, 2004. Awarded 2005 Stonewall Prize for nonfiction from American Library Association. Chapter 1 online at
    • Steven Kotler. “Oh So Natural: Sexual selection, the Good Book and why gay is good”. LA Weekly: Art + Books. April 15. 2004.
    • Antony Thomas (dir & scr). Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She. With Louis Gooren, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Milton Diamond, Alice Dreger, Joan Roughgarden, Calpernia Addams, Andrea James. USA/UK 74 mins 2005.
    • Joan Roughgarden, Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist. Island Press. 2006.
    • Joan Roughgarden. The Genial Gene: Deconstructing Darwinian Selfishness. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.
    • Shankar Vedantam.  “How the sex bias prevails”.  The Age, May 15, 2010. 


    Joan's website used to be  However that is now a site in Japanese.

    The history/anthropology chapters of Evolution's Rainbow are perhaps not as good as the biology chapters.   For example the section on ancient Greek/Roman sexuality is based on Kenneth Dover alone.   This is a very large topic and Dover's major virtue is merely his early date.

    For some reason LeVay is not mentioned in Evolution’s Rainbow.

    In WorldCat Jonathan's books are listed as by Joan, but in Amazon they are treated as two different people.

    Ben Barres, a physicist, also at Stanford, transitioned in the other direction at around the same time.  He commented on how he was interrupted, ignored and condescended to by men less often.   The contrast was explored in several newspaper articles.

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    Sarduy grew up in Amiens. He used Christmas 1955 money from an uncle to buy a train ticket to Paris, and found work in a restaurant, and then selling soap for the blind door-to-door. Sarduy knew about hormones, having read an article about Christine Jorgensen. She got her first pill from Gina who became a friend.

    Later she ventured to Place Blanche where the experienced trans women worked. However she was arrested for soliciting and spent three months in the male prison La Sante. Afterwards Jacquie returned to living in the hotel Fairyland.

    Sarduy was called up for national service during the Algerian troubles. She went as a woman and flirted with the officers, which resulted in being exempted for life.

    Jacquie was done for soliciting a second time during the 1957 Paris visit of the British Queen. This sentence was six months in the high-security prison at Poissy with dangerous criminals. She was raped; there was a rebellion by the Arab prisoners and she had to be hidden. Her hair was cut two days before release.

    She found work at the Heure Bleue club and developed a friendship with Liane, a cis woman. They visited Jacquie's mother and Jacquie announced that that was the last time that they would see her as a boy. Her mother came to visit her and Liane and gave Jacquie stockings and a necklace: "Je ne vais pas t'offrir une cravate maintenant". She sometimes forgot and addressed Jacquie by her boy name.

    Jacquie sometimes worked at Madame Arthur. From April to September 1959 she worked in Cannes, where she refused to be taken on by pimps. Later that year she met the Swedish photographer Christer Strömholm. By Christmas that year Jacquie was a woman. After that her mother always got her name right.

    Jacquie's boyfriend, Jacques, was with the army in Algeria, but during his leave she found that he was two-timing her.

    A friend who worked at Paris Jour and Paris Match referred to Jacquie as 'Manon' in his column, and introduced her to famous people, some of whom became lovers. She alternated soliciting with cabaret work, for example at Drap d'Or, and toured across Europe, but had a bad reputation at Le Carrousel, until 1969 when she met Marcel Oudjman, the owner. She then performed there until it closed.

    She had parts in two underground films by the Spanish filmmaker, Adolfo Arrieta: Les intrigues de Sylvia Couski, 1975 and Tam Tam, 1976. One of the people she had come to know was the Argentinian playwright Copi (Raúl Damonte Botana) who proposed to put Jacquie in a play, and they both performed it at the Festival Europalia in Brussels. However when the play was performed in Paris, Jacquie was no longer in it.

    After Le Carrousel closed in 1985, Jacquie and a friend who was a second-hand dealer had a stall in the flea market.
    • Hélène Hazera interviews Jacky. "Aujord'hui Jacky Se Raconts". In Christer Strömholm. Les Amies De Place Blanche. Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2011: 60-6.

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    From Chinook, Montana, Elliott Blackstone served in the US Navy during the Second World War. In 1949 he joined the San Francisco Police Department.

    In 1961-2 there was a 'gayola' scandal about police taking payoffs from gay bars. One reaction to this was that José Sarria set a precedent by running for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Another was that Blackstone was assigned as the police department's first liaison officer with the homophile community. He worked with the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, he helped to end entrapment in public toilets, he trained police recruits by bringing in gays, lesbians and trans people to talk about themselves.

    In 1965 the Society for Individual Rights (SIR) had negotiated with Blackstone so that they could hold a gay New Year's ball; however others in the police force had different ideas and it was raided anyway. Even Mrs Blackstone was taken to be a drag queen and shoved about.

    In August 1966 there was a riot at Compton's Cafeteria, and Blackstone attempted to moderate between the queens and the security people. Later Blackstone met Louise Ergestrasse (Durkin), the first transsexual to use that term to him. She got him a copy of Harry Benjamin's The Transsexual Phenomenon, and he began to arrange help. He persuaded the Center for Special Problems, part of the city Department of Public Health, and they began to offer hormones, counseling and referrals. Benjamin came and trained the staff, and worked with Blackstone. Blackstone gave lectures to fellow police officers.

    He encouraged transsexuals to organize as Change: Our Goal (COG) and attended their meetings. With Blackstone's support COG dissuaded the police from arresting people for using the 'wrong' toilets or being cross-dressed. He helped to establish an anti-poverty office that employed transsexuals. He collected donations at his church to pay for hormones for transsexuals who could not afford them. The office provided ID cards that enabled trans persons to open bank accounts and obtain employment. After Reed Erickson's EEF funded the National Transsexual Counseling Unit (NTCU) in San Francisco, Blackstone managed its office as part of his police liaison role. EEF provided funds so that he could attend professional development and criminal justice conventions across the US and in Europe to give his views on police mistreatment of transsexual minorities. In the office he worked with individuals who were having problems with the law or their employers. He gave a presentation to every San Francisco Police Academy Class.

    However in 1973 a police agent persuaded an NTCU employee to bring cocaine on to the premises, which were then raided. Drugs were also planted in Blackstone's desk. He was then assigned to another job. Within two years Blackstone had retired and NTCU was no more.

    Blackstone had been 26 years with the force. He was presented with a plaque: "Many thanks, The Transsexual Community of San Francisco". At age 81 he became the first retired officer to receive a commendation from the Police Commission, and was a grand marshal at the 2006 San Francisco Pride parade. He died a few months later of a stroke.

    * Not the mountaineer.


    Joanne Meyerowitz says (p257) that the two trans women arrested in 1973 were Suzan Cooke and Janice Maxwell who were there running NTCU. However Suzan's own account does not say that. Cooke: "Elliott Blackstone remained a constant, a supporter who was too often paternalistic and too often clueless but nonetheless stood by us."

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    Giambrone grew up in the West End of Toronto.  The family are of Italian descent and moved to Canada from the US to avoid the Vietnam War.

    Broden transitioned before doing a BA in Sociology, 2006, at McGill University, Montréal.  In 2007 he was part of G/B/Q Trans men HIV Prevention Working Group (now which wrote the health guide GettingPrimed: The Back Pocket Guide for Transmen and the Men Who Dig Them. From 2006-8 he was a volunteer with the social justice organization OPIRG at York University, Toronto. He then worked with Trans Pulse on HIV health issues, and in 2010 completed a Master of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

    Broden did an advanced course in International Health at Brighton, UK, and settled in Dublin, where he is now the Chief Executive at Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).

    He has expressed concern about the lack of provisions for trans persons in Ireland, but gave a cautious welcome to the government's proposed gender recognition legislation in 2013, despite concerns that the draft had been put together without any consultation with trans or LGBT groups, or medical specialists.

    TENI    LINKEDIN     WorldCat

    Yes, Toronto politician Adam Giambrone is Broden’s elder brother.  He dropped out of the 2010 Toronto Mayoral election because of revelations about his private life.   But it was old-fashioned philandering, and Broden was not even mentioned.   He was running second in the polls at the time.   So it is a shame that he did not stay in and defeat the much more scandal-plagued Rob Ford.

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    Simone dressed and lived as female from age 18. She was contingently accepted for surgery but told that she must work for a year as a woman first. She managed to obtain work as a secretary/personal assistant in the Department of Health of the House of Representatives, the Parliament for coloured South Africans in the Apartheid system, while being open about her past.

    However, a year later, the surgery program had been suspended. Simone ended up waiting ten further years. Then using her contacts she heard that the program at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town (where Christiaan Barnard had performed the first heart transplant in 1967) had been revived and they were doing operations again. Transgender operations had been done, on and off, at Groote Schuur since 1970 but ironically were discontinued after the end of Apartheid, as was state funding for the operation. Simone, one of the last to have the operation there, was approved in 1994 for state funding but her insurance company stepped in once assured that the operation was medical and not cosmetic. She told her then boss that she was having gender surgery and he thought that that meant that she would become a man.

    Simone's elder sister Tammy was also trans but died of AIDS before she could have surgery – 23 days before Simone had her second-stage surgery.
    Even after surgery, the embedded gender number range in her National ID number kept outing her to banks and government bureaucracies. Working with the Gender Research Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and with the nerve to make an appointment with the Attorney General himself, Simone was able to threaten to go to the Constitutional Court. The Department of of Justice and the Department of Home Affairs agreed to change her ID book and even her ID number as a one-off.

    Simone found a boyfriend who was quite accepting of her past, and they were engaged. However he had a history of depression, and hanged himself in March 2003.

    Simone had been working with the Triangle Project, a trans support group in the Western Cape at that time. On the Internet she discovered that the National Assembly was discussing an Alteration of Sex Description Bill. With Estian Smit and Sally Gross (an intersex person), also of the Triangle Project, they prepared a submission to the Assembly committee – even though they had only three weeks to do so. Simone was given three weeks off work to attend portfolio committee after committee. Against opposition from established gay and lesbian organizations, they formed the independent Cape Town Transsexual/Transgender Support Group to lobby that surgery not be a requirement and that provision be made for intersex persons.

    "Refusing to legally recognize a transsexual person’s reassigned sex serves no purpose. It impedes their ability to live and work in their new gender, in accordance with their medically prescribed treatment. Being able to obtain correct identity documentation is the key to equal participation in employment and educational opportunities for a transsexual person. Rather than erecting additional barriers in the path of transsexual people, the law should encourage and support their successful adjustment by providing them with the legal recognition necessary to be productive members of society."
    The resulting Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act 2003 was voted for by the ruling African National Congress and most opposition parties with the conspicuous exception of the Christian Democratic Party.

    Simone later became involved with Gender DynamiX.

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  • 04/19/14--05:19: The Zapotec trans culture

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    Tracy Norman was raised in Newark, New Jersey, and started going to the Ball scene in Harlem, where she became known as Tracy from New Jersey.

    She was encouraged by friends to attend a modeling event at the Pierre Hotel in New York in 1971 where she was discovered by renowned photographer Irving Penn and booked for Vogue Italia a few days later. She was similar in appearance to the rising black model Beverly Johnson, and quickly was featured in major advertizing campaigns for Clairol, Ultra Sheen and Avon Cosmetics. Essense Magazine booked her for several sessions.

    During the last session, the hair dresser's assistant, who was from the same part of New Jersey and had been asking around trying to figure out who Tracy was, spoke to the editor and spread the word that Tracy 'was not female'. Work in New York dried up.

    Later Tracy bought a one-way ticket to Paris and was able to find work in fashion shows.

    In the 1990s she moved back to New York, became one of the founders of the House Africa and became known as Tracy Africa on the Ball scene. She became mother to the house, and was elected to the Ballroom Hall of Fame in 2001.

    Recently she has been working in home decorating

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    Robert Logan Carter was raised in Florida by his great-grandmother and then his grand-mother after his mother committed suicide when he was 3 months old. At 11 he discovered Marilyn Monroe. He neglected his school work:

    "I wasn't meant to study arithmetic, and I wasn't meant to study history. I was meant to be a blonde!".
    He ran away at 13 and became a kept boy, boy hooker and transy hooker in Hollywood. In 1971, booked on prostitution charges, he fled back to Tampa. He débuted in Florida’s nightclubs as Roxanne Russell, working with Paul Wegman. He won the 1974 Miss Florida title.

    Off-stage he was masculine. As did British impersonator David Dale, Logan made Charles Aznavor’s ‘What Makes a Man a Man?’ his theme song, in which he stripped as female, and ended up as male. Filmmaker Derek Calderwood recorded the act as a 6-minute film, which later became a tool for classroom debates on what is gender.

    Logan shot to fame as a drag performer, and also as a male model. In Manhattan, photographers would stop him on sight asking him to pose. In male clothes he posed for a punk-rock store. Italy’s Harper’s Bazaar and Mode International ran an avant-garde spread of Logan as both male and female.

    His lover was Jack Nichols (1938 - 2005) gay activist and author of Men’s Liberation, 1975.

    Logan performed regularly at La Cage, in Hollywood. He was on the cover of The Advocate.

    He had a small trans parts in Second Serve, 1968, Down On Us, 1984, and Love Streams, 1984. He played a wife on Repo Man, 1984, and a hooker in Hollywood Vice Squad, 1986. In 1985 he, and several other impersonators, did part of their stage act in the film Dream Boys Review.
    Logan died of Aids at 33.
    • Derek Calderwood (dir). Gender. With Logan Carter. US 6 mins 1978.
    • Howard Schwartz & John Moriaty (dir). Dream Boys Revue. Hosted by Lyle Waggoner & Ruth Buzzi, with Logan Carter and other female impersonators. US 74 mins 1985.
    • Jack Nichols. “Logan Carter Remembered: Starting as Florida Teen, He Danced Across International Stages”. Badpuppy Gay Today. 19 May 1997.
    • James T. Sears. Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South. Rutgers University Press 421 pp 2001: 41-7, 73-5, 84-5,128-130, 154-6, 160-2, 287, 309.
    • J. Louis Campbell. Jack Nichols, Gay Pioneer: "Have You Heard My Message?". New York: Harrington Park Press, 2007: 156-170, 176, 189, 191, 237

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    Revenioti was born and raised in Piraeus, the port of Athens. His father was a factory worker, his mother a hairdresser. His father's family regarded his homosexuality as shameful and he joined the navy academy at 13 to escape. That is where he first had sex.

    He was expelled three years later and moved to Exarchia, in downtown Athens and lived as female. She made a living as a sex worker.

    "I've met all sorts of people, from murderers to saints. I have seen the secrets of the Greek man, I've seen as few saw."
    In the 1980s Paola was involved in many protests against state repression and for gay and trans (parendytikon) rights. In 1985 she published a collection of poetry Σαλτάρισμα (Saltarisma). From 1986-92 she published Kraximo, a 'trans-anarchist fanzine' which ran articles about gay and trans rights and photographs of her tricks.

    In 1990 Paola became the first trans candidate for the Οικολόγων Εναλλακτικών (Alternate Ecological Party), and was one of the founders of the Greek version of ACT UP. In 1992 she was a prime mover in Athens' first gay pride, which was done without there being any gay organizations to support it. In 2003 she was elected as the president of the SATTE= Σωματείου Αλληλεγγύης Τραβεστί Τρανσέξουαλ Ελλάδος (Solidarity Association of Greek Transsexuals and Transvestites).

    In 2008 she was a co-author of Η ιστορία του λεσβιακού, γκέι, αμφί και τρανς κινήματος στην Ελλάδα: μια πρώτη αποτίμηση(The history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans movement in Greece: a first assessment), and appeared in the short film, Κι αν είναι αλήθεια; (What if it is true?).

    In October 2013 she had an exhibition of her photographs in London.
    Trans*late Paola   EL.WIKIPEDIA   IMDB  Google+  YouTube

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    Unfortunately the subtitles translate 'kathoey' as 'transvestite', which is rather misleading.

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    There have recently been two well-worth-reading articles on the word by Cristan Williams and Julia Serano. This is by the way of a supplement re aspects not mentioned.

    Kate Bornstein has previously attributed the origin of 'tranny' to drag queens and transsexuals working together in Sydney in the 1960s. Maybe. I don't know an alternate origin claim. I came across the term in the 1970s when it existed in two forms: tranny and transy. People tended to opt for one or the other. I was in the latter camp on grounds of euphonics, that both transvestite and transsexual contained an 's' and that in the 1960s a trannie was the word for a transistor radio.

    Today people talk in terms of umbrella words. I always felt that it was a matter of indeterminacy. I met people who were apparently transy some way or another, but it was rude to ask about genitals, and I had no way of knowing if the person was post-op, intended to become so or chose not to be. This was even more so when there was a transy in a film – probably because the part was underscripted. The one distinction that was immediate in my mind was between transvestites and drag queens: the former hated being read while the latter revelled in it. However both types were quite likely to progress to going full-time and becoming post-op.

    Both tranny and transy are deeply embedded in our history. Tranny Roadshow, Trannyshack, Tranny Crew, Tranny Granny, Transy House, and in the biographies of our older sisters and brothers.

    In the last few years there have been a few developments:

    1. tranny and transy have both transmogrified into 'trans' or 'trans*'. However it is still the same word and concept.
    2. In schoolyards and on the street the repressed meanies, the ones who who are terrified that they themselves should be seduced by homoeroticism or gender variance, the ones who previously put down others by shouting 'pouf' or 'fag' found that those they feared had created words for themselves: gay and tranny. So they thought it clever to take those words and use them as insults. The gay and trans communities have had completely different responses.
    3. The gays use irony and cleverness to counter the meanies, but there is no question of surrendering the word.
    4. A small but loud minority of trans persons decided to surrender the word 'tranny' to the meanies. This is a defeat, and a temporary withdrawal. The meanies use the internet also and will be using trans, transgender, transsexual (even HBS were it to enter common usage) in the same tone of voice.*
    5. Strangely the repressed meanies have not picked up on the word 'autogynephile': it is the bullies within our own community who use that word for trans women whom they do not like. The soi-disant autogynephiles, like the gays, have stuck with their own choice of word despite others using it as an insult.
    6. Having had a bad experience with the meanies, rather than use irony or cleverness, or stand up to them, the minority of trans women sought an easier target: their elder sisters. Many trans women have been using tranny or transy as a positive word of self identification – in some cases for over four decades. These older trans women were told that they could no longer use their preferred word for themselves because of interactions elsewhere that did not involve them. This is impertinent at best. Some would say that it is rude and insensitive.
    7. For some reason, those who demand that tranny be expunged from history and discourse say nothing about a similar expungement of transy and trans. Probably because their agenda is derived from the meanies, not from intra-community discourse.

    Those who demand that a word be no longer used do not understand how language works.  The attempt to ban a word gives it extra force and makes it attractive, not just to repressed meanies, but also to satirists, performers, historians and wordsmiths.   After not using the tranny variant for four decades, I have found myself using it in recent years.

    For all of my life trans liberation has been struggling, with success, against the dogma that gender variation is a pathology.   Much of the demand that certain words not be used, even within the community, is also a dogma.   Are we building a new prison?    Let those who want say tranny or transy or trans or trans*.   It is not the word that ever hurts - it is the tone of voice.   Those who hate us can avoid any specific word and still be hateful.   It is our loss to lose the word.   It is not a loss to those who hate us.


    *There is, of course that delightful scene in It's Pat - The Movie where Pat encounters a bunch of street thugs.   One of the thugs pulls out a battered copy of Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae and says: "Yes, that is what you are: you're androgynous".  

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    Donal Mark Foy, did a degree in Dentistry at University College Dublin, 1971, and set up a practice in Athy, Co. Kildare. Foy married a woman in 1977 and fathered two daughters.

    As Lydia, she transitioned with surgery in Brighton, UK in 1992, after a judicial separation. The Irish Health Board System contributed £3,000. In 1994 she lost access to her children by order of the Circuit Court.

    While her driving licence, and UK and Irish passports give her gender as female, her birth certificate still said male. In 1997 she began an action in a High Court contending that the Births and Deaths Registration (Ireland) Act 1863 did not justify the practice of using solely biological indicators existing at the time of birth to determine sex for the purposes of registration. The case came to court in 2000. Mrs Foy and the daughters contested the plea claiming that it could have "an adverse effect on their succession and other rights". Judgement was reserved for two years: Dr Foy’s claim was rejected due to the lack of Irish or UK legislation that would facilitate the overturning of the existing jurisprudence. Justice McKechnie called on the Government and Oireachtas to deal with the position of transgender people as a matter of urgency:

    “Could I adopt what has repeatedly been said by the European Court of Human Rights and urge the appropriate authorities to urgently review this matter”.
    Two days later, 11 July 2002 the European Court of Human Rights found in favour of Christine Goodwin's case to have a correct birth certificate (Christine Goodwin v. UK) and awarded costs and expenses of £14,685: “the unsatisfactory situation in which post-operative transsexuals live in an intermediate zone as not quite one gender or the other is no longer sustainable”.

    Foy appealed to the Supreme Court, but in the meanwhile the Oireachtas passed the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 bringing the European Convention into Irish domestic law. However Foy was once again refused when she made an application to the Registrar General. She began new proceedings in the High Court seeking a declaration under the ECHR Act that Irish legislation was incompatible with the European Convention regarding the registration and issue of birth certificates. The case was heard in 2007 by the same judge as in 2000 who found the State to be in breach of its positive obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in failing to recognise Dr Foy in her female gender and provide her with a new birth certificate. This was the first declaration of incompatibility to be made under the ECHR Act.

    The State appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court. In May 2010 the Government set up an Advisory group “to advise the Minister for Social Protection on the legislation required to provide for legal recognition by the State of the acquired gender of transsexuals”, and a month later withdrew its appeal to the Supreme Court. In 2011 the Advisory published its recommendations for gender recognition legislation. And then nothing.

    In February 2013, Foy and others announced that they were returning to court to take the Government to task for inaction.

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    Daniel came from a family in Ireland which held the position of village postmaster for several generations. When he played house with younger girls, he would be the mother. Other boys called him 'mollycoddle' or 'sissy', but otherwise he was not picked on.

    "I always liked to dress as a girl. At home they thought it was funny. It was the custom on the other side to dress boys as girls until they were six or seven but when it was time to get out of dresses I did not want to. … I liked to do housework but I wasn't allowed to because I had older sisters."  From age eight, he had relations with older boys "in which I played the part of a woman".
    He emigrated to Boston at age 19. He worked as a grocery store clerk and as a bellboy. He found men who treated him like a woman, and mingled in gay circles and used makeup. He saved his money.

    At age 21 he moved to New York where he again found men who were interested in him sexually. He dressed female to go to masquerade balls. He worked for a year in a men's club, but was frequently being pestered for sex. This led to an argument and he was fired.

    Danielle took up with another who was as feminine and they lived off men. She met an Irish baker, four or five years older, in a speakeasy and he set her up in an apartment. He preferred to see her in female clothing, and gave her money for clothing and recreation.  She would always have a meal ready when he returned from work.  Danielle sometimes went with other men, usually for money. Sometimes the baker did not object, but sometimes he beat her.

    Once she was entrapped by a policeman in a movie house: she served six days. Another time she was at a ball when it was raided, and they were all locked up overnight.

    Danielle was one of the persons interviewed by the Sex Variants project in the late 1930s.
    • George W. Henry. Sex Variants: A Study of Homosexual Patterns. New York: Hoeber, 1948: 425-38.
    • Jennifer Terry. An American Obsession: Science, Medicine, and the Place of Homosexuality in Modern Society. University of Chicago Press, 1999: 228-9.
    • Henry L. Minton. Departing from Deviance: A History of Homosexual Rights and Emancipatory Science in America. University of Chicago Press, 2002: 62-4, 71, 72, 291n33.

     "Daniel O'L." is a pseudonym assigned by the Sex Variants committee.   We do not know either her boy name or her real name.   I have called her Danielle to make the reading easier.

    To our eyes Danielle is obviously an early-transitioning transsexual, or would be if the social and medical support available to us had been around in the late 1930s.  Danielle was 26 when interviewed by George Henry, and so was in her 40s when the Christine Jorgensen story broke and almost 60 in the summer of the Stonewall riots.  We hope that she was able to complete her journey to womanhood albeit in the latter part of her life.

    Both Terry and Minton purport to stand up for the subjects of the Sex Variants project against the paternalism of the doctors who ran it.  However, in both books, Daniel O'L and the other pseudonyms are not in the index, and the books offer no way to find the sections about them.   I got around this by using Google's look inside feature - but that is not to the credit of either author.

    Terry (p228) describes Danielle as a 'drag queen'.   What can she mean by that?   Danielle never performed on stage.   Nor does she get off on being read.  Could it be that for Terry any androphilic trans woman is a drag queen whatever type of trans she is: post-op, transvestite, performer.   This offense is further compounded by always referring to Danielle as 'he' and a 'man'.  As her book is published by the University of Chicago Press we can assume a peer reviewer who also failed to mention this to her.

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    • 05/09/14--05:10: The Eurovision Song Contest
    • ++ Original May 2009, revised May 2014

      This Saturday the Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Copenhagen.

      Eurovison has a a good track record of including both transsexuals and drag composers and performers:

      Wally Stott, the future Angela Morley, in 1962 and 1963 arranged and conducted the UK entries for the Eurovision Song Contest, ‘Ring-A-Ding Girl’ and ‘Say Wonderful Things’, both sung by Ronnie Carroll.

      Cris Owen came second in the competition to represent Finland in 1989, and  wrote the Finnish Eurovision entries in 1992 and 1993.

      Sharon Cohen, under her stage name of Dana International, came second in the Israeli selection contest in 1995; in 1998 she won with her song Diva, despite not getting the full support of her country. Orthodox Rabbis and the Shas Party tried to have her selection cancelled.  In 1999 she sang during the interval and presented the awards. In 2011 she represented Israel again, and reached the semi-finals.

      In 2000, Gloria Gray performed at the German national final for Eurovision.

      In 2002, the Slovenian drag trio Sestra came 13th.

      In 2004, the Swedish drag act, After Dark, competed to be the Swedish entry with the song “La dolce vita” but came only third. They tried again in 2007 with “(Åh) när ni tar saken i egna händer” (which has masturbation suggestions), and they came fifth in the Swedish competition.

      In 2007, the Danish entry was by the drag persona DQ of Peter Anderson. The song came 19th in the semi-finals.

      Also in 2007, the Ukrainian entry by Verka Serduchka, the drag persona of Andriy Danylko, singing “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” came second. Verka Serduchka came second. A nationwide radio station and some members of Parliament objected to Verka’s selection which they saw as “grotesque and vulgar”. “Lasho Tumbai” is a somewhat made-up expression that Verka says sounds like the Mongolian for ‘milkshake’, but this was denied in Mongolia. To Russians it sounded like “Russia Goodbye” which caused offense.

      Conchita Wurst, bearded and in drag, is the 2014 Austrian entry.  Russia, Belarus and Armenia have protested and threatened to block the broadcast.

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    • 05/11/14--06:41: Raven Kaldera (?–) shaman
    • Kaldera has congenital adrenal hyperplasia. She was introduced to Wicca by a boyfriend at age 14. She wandered through various pagan and earth-centered traditions including Dianic and Umbanda.

      Despite being masculine, she became a wife and the mother of a daughter, and was planning to be a science fiction writer and a folk musician, when she had a near-death experience while battling with lupus.

      "During this drawn-out illness, I had a massive vision of the goddess who had been involved with me throughout my life.”
      She revealed herself as Hela, the Norse goddess of death.
      "She hung me up, tore me apart like a butchered animal and rebuilt me. When I came to, I was different. I lost some fears, I lost some memories, I lost some personality traits, and there were some new things. I’d always been able to sense ghosts but now could see them much more clearly. I’d always been able to vaguely sense the presence of gods and divine entities, but suddenly they were there, like an electric fence."
      Hela told Kaldera to become a man, an option he had already been considering. He took testosterone and had chest surgery.
      “It was a gamble, it was a leap in the dark, but it was absolutely wonderful. For me it was sacred shape-shifting. OK, socially it’s been very difficult, but y’know, it’s hard to be a minority. The irony was that I went through my second puberty at 30, around the same time my daughter went through normal puberty.”
      Later the god Baphomet arrived and talked to Kaldera.
      "The reason that he, or she, liked me is that he’s a hermaphroditic god. He can shift back and forth, but he’s always mixed. I’ve lent him my body. In Afro-Caribbean terms, I’m a ‘horse’, in that I will lend my body consensually to god-possession under certain circumstances or rituals. He makes sure, while he’s using my body, to leave me a lesson of some kind.”
      Raven is a northern shaman, mainly working in the Norse tradition, devoted to gods from all three pantheons: Aesir, Vanir and Rokkr, but with some input from other traditions. He sees his tribe as those who are transgender/ third gender. He is also into polyamory and the spiritual aspects of BDSM:
      “If you put BDSM into a spiritual context, it’s not a question of if something deep will come up; it’s a question of when".
      He is the leader or king of the Neo-Pagan First Kingdom Church of Asphodel. His wife of 13 years is Bella, a trans women. They own and run Cauldron Farm, a pagan homestead in Hubbardston in rural Massachusetts, where they live with his daughter, who still calls him 'Mum'.

      Much of what he has written is controversial and is rejected by other neo-pagan groups, particularly the emphasis on ordeal, the fact that he has a boyfriend-slave, and is into domination that features pain and violence. He has written 33 books.
      CauldronFarm   PaganBDSM   RavenKaldera   KingdomofAsphodel   NAFPS   RunatyrKindred    LGBTran    WorldCat    Amazon

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      As Octavia would openly admit in later years, she started with the name Jeffrey. A native New Yorker, she started walking the New York balls in 1962. She joined the House of St Laurent and at age 26 was featured in Jennie Livingston's seminal documentary of the balls, Paris Is Burning. She then had a small part in the film, The Saint of Fort Washington, 1993.

      Afterwards Octavia, already HIV+ and addicted, moved to Connecticut and worked as a motivational speaker and HIV educator. She was a talented singer and worked with Connecticut resident Greg Field on a series of recordings. However Greg got an extended gig in Iceland, and the recordings were never released.

      Out Magazine, 2005

      In 2005 she was the hostess at the Pill Awards. Also that year she was quoted in Out Magazine as "embarrassed" to have appeared in such a "depressing and degrading film"; but Next Magazine quoted her: "Paris is Burning was huge for me and I loved it".

      She did appear in the next ball-scene film How Do I Look, which came out in 2006, and was open about her struggle with drugs, and her sex work.

      She died at age 45 after a battle with cancer.

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      Rees' parents met on a P&O cruise, where father, born in South Africa, was part of the crew. He continued in the merchant navy. Mother was a secretary. Brenda Rees was born near Tunbridge Wells, Kent in the third year of the war, the sole survivor of premature twins. She had another sister four years younger.

      Rees was a defiant tomboy who refused to wear frocks or a bra.

      "I took it for granted that all girls wanted to be boys and would share my masculine interests".
      She rejected her parents guidance to female occupations and went to the local art college, but she was taunted for her androgynous appearance, which led to a voluntary admittance to a psychiatric hospital. The doctors had little to offer her, but a fellow patient gave her a copy of The New of the World containing an article about Georgina Turtle. Her use of ladies' toilets also led to confrontations.

      After working at a clerical post, Brenda was able, after several rejections because of the psychiatric admission, to join the Women's Royal Naval Service. However she was perceived as too mannish, and after two years discharged on medical grounds.

      She started studying for the qualifications necessary to apply for medical school. In 1969 the Albany Trust and the Erickson Foundation organized the first International Conference on Gender Identity in London. Brenda read about this in The Times. After a delay because of father's death, she contacted Doreen Cordell at the Albany Trust, which had mainly worked for the decriminalization of homosexuality. With Brenda's agreement she was passed to Dr John Randall, whom she met, first at his Harley Street rooms, for a fee, and then at Charing Cross Hospital on the NHS. At their first meeting Randall said that he could help Brenda live as a man if that was what she really wanted.

      She failed to get into medical school, but was accepted for the Dentistry course at the University of Birmingham. The plan was to qualify as a dentist before before becoming a man. However the stress of remaining the wrong sex for five years proved to be too much and in 1971 she asked to start on male hormones. The university supported Rees in his role change. His vicar suggested a week at the Anglican Franciscan Friary in Dorset, an all-male community, before returning home and to the third year of his dentistry studies.

      All went well: with staff, with fellow students, and with neighbours in Tunbridge Wells. In December The Daily Telegraph ran an article by medical journalist Wendy Cooper, "Gender is a Mutable Point". Mark wrote to her, and she interviewed him for a subsequent article. Mrs Cordell asked if he would meet with journalist Sally Vincent whose subsequent article showed several misunderstandings. Mrs Cordell also put him in touch with other female-to-male transsexuals. Nonetheless Mark withdrew from the dental course after the third year - he knew that he wasn’t really dextrous enough to make a good dental surgeon.

      He had a bilateral mastectomy in 1974, followed by an appearance on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour. He had a total hysterectomy in 1975. He then studied at Christ Church College, Canterbury, at first in teacher training, but then for a University of London BA in Literature and Religious Studies. He was out with the college authorities in that it was not then possible to change the gender on any legal documents.

      Doreen died, leaving Mark feeling that he had lost a true friend. He submitted an article to The Nursing Mirror, but they wanted an accompanying medical article which Dr Randell was happy to supply. As per his usual practice he referred to female-to male transsexuals as 'ladies'.

      Mark felt that he was being called to ordination within the Church of England. He was both a guide and a server at Canterbury Cathedral which was in effect his local church at that time. However it said 'Brenda' on his baptismal certificate. He wrote to the Archbishop, Dr Donald Coggan, who replied courteously that because he was still legally a woman and at that time the Church of England did not ordain women, Mark could not be considered for the priesthood.

      Mark knew of Dr Charles Armstrong at Victoria Hospital in Newcastle from Wendy Cooper. In late 1978 he wrote to ask for advice in finding a surgeon who would do a phalloplasty, and was referred to Armstrong's colleague Mr Edwards. This led to a full evaluation in Newcastle by the Gender Dysphoria Panel, including Mark's first examination by an endocrinologist. However the surgeon, Mr Edwards, retired shortly afterwards and was not replaced.

      Continued in Part II.


      Jacqueline Dufresnoy (Coccinelle) was rebaptised after transition.  Such would have given Mark a baptismal certificate in his real name, but he probably realised that if they got beyond the baptismal certificate, the same refusal would have come based on his birth certificate.

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      Continued from Part I.

      The refusal from the Church of England spurred Mark to consider a challenge through the legal system. A friend told him of Daniel van Oosterwijck who had applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the same issue. In 1979 he found a lawyer, David Sonia Burgess (1947 – 2010), also transgender, who would take the case.

      In 1981 Mark chastised a local boy for breaking glass close to his house. In revenge the boy's mother put out the word about Mark's gender history and he was then continuously taunted by local kids. Another disappointment in this period was that Mark's younger sister, Jane, who had been initially supportive of his transition, turned against it in 1984, and even cut herself off from their mother.
      That same year Mark wrote to the BBC's Claire Rayner's Casebook, and suggested that they do a program on transsexuality. The film crew came to Mark's home for the interview, but did not give his full name or whereabouts on the air.

      Mark and David Burgess had been appealing through the courts and finally the ECHR decided that there was a case. Supposedly Mark's identity was to be confidential, but in April 1985 the ECHR issued a press release giving Mark's full name, and it was reprinted in The Guardian. This was quickly picked up by a local newspaper.

      The ECHR hearing was held in 1986. Eleven days before, Mark and his mother were featured on BBC 1 Nine O'Clock News, and on Woman's Hour. The Thatcher government sent expensive lawyers to argue against Mark's petition, and it was denied. However, on the day that the ECHR's decision was handed down, Mark received a letter from the Liberal MP and barrister Alex Carlile expressing support. He was also invited to the Tunbridge Wells Civic Banquet by the incoming mayor.

      In Liz Hodgkinson's 1987 book, Bodyshock, Mark explained:

      "Sometimes I think  that I should know all about cars, now that I'm supposed to be a man, but many of my male friends don't understand mechanical things. I don't feel that it is essential at all. I see myself as an ideal person in the middle. Having been a woman, and having grown up, albeit reluctantly, in a woman's world, I find that my sympathies are with women. I find many men boring and pompous. I prefer to listen to women, and feel I know all about them, having been one. Everybody knows about me and I don't try to hide my background as many female-to-male transsexuals do."
      In 1988 Mark encountered his sister's two daughters in town and said 'Hello'. A solicitor's letter letter came three days later demanding that he not attempt to see the children. Following this their mother went to visit a friend in Somerset, and died. A cousin from South Africa turned up for the funeral, who was also a female-to-male transsexual. Jane came but refused to sit with or even look at her brother. The local yobos jeered as Mark followed his mother's coffin. Later in the year a memorial service was held, without Jane being invited.

      Mark fell into depression and stopped attending church. In 1989 Wendy Cooper got Wales On Sunday to commission a life history from Mark, and in June he went to Brussels as the European Parliament had accepted a motion that transsexuals be legally recognised. The motion was passed in September, but, as expected, the Thatcher government totally ignored it. On the trip Mark met with Pastor Joseph Doucé, a year before he was assassinated.

      Mark started on a career as a public speaker, mainly to the Samaritans charity. Financially he was still relying on the dole. Alex Carlile organized a meeting of transsexuals and supporters in 1992 that started in his office and finished in a nearby café. This resulted in the foundation of Press for Change(PFC). Mark was happy to let the younger, and computer literate, do most of the work, but continued to write letters , especially to Anglican dioceses, and spoke at many meetings across the UK.

      In 1994 Mark was elected to the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council representing the Liberal Democrat Party, one of the first openly trans candidates to be elected. However it resulted in an ill-mannered article in The News of the World. Nonetheless the local paper published a photograph of Councillor Rees a few weeks later with no mention at all of his gender history.

      In 1996 Cassell published Mark's biography with a foreword by the Dutch professor Louis J Gooren and a preface by Alex Carlile.

      In 2002, Mark turned 60, and being legally a woman was able to start drawing a state pension.

      The Gender Recognition Act which PFC had campaigned for, came into effect in 2004, despite fierce opposition from the Evangelical Alliance and the Christian Institute. In July Mark had a letter published in The Church Times.
      "It has been my hope that it might be possible to organise a service to give thanks for the passing of the Act, and to include penitence and reconciliation; but this has met with considerable antagonism from some colleagues, solely because of the bishops’ opposition. I wonder if there is any serving bishop who would have courage enough to say, 'On behalf of the Church, I am sorry for the hurt we have caused you'."
      This generated enough response that an event, “The Gender Recognition Act 2004, Reflection and Thanksgiving,” was held in St Anne’s Church, Soho, London, on 21 May 2005. Mark's local vicar in Tunbridge Wells came and preached a sermon against Christians who would not show love. Ironically, within the preceding week the Act had been amended by a Statutory Instrument in order to accommodate the objections of the fundamentalists. As a result they have the right to check on anyone who they might suspect to be transgender. If the individual is so, these religious people are permitted by law to refuse him or her employment, accommodation or even entry to worship.

      By now Mark considered himself to be agnostic, and no longer attended church. He did however take a diploma course in applied theology. After the priest tutor mentioned that her church organist was transgender, Mark outed himself to the tutor and then the class. This went well and several wanted to read his biography which was by then out of print. This led to Mark expanding the book and adding photographs. The new publication in 2009 was at his own expense.

      He finally registered as male under the Gender Recognition Act as an act of closure in completing the revision of the book.

      *not the footballer, nor the neuroscience professor
      • European Commission of Human Rights. Mark Rees against the United Kingdom: Report. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1984.
      • Terence Shaw.  "Sex Change Rights Plea to Court".  The Daily Telegraph, 17 Mar 1986. 
      • Liz Hodgkinson,. Bodyshock: the truth about changing sex. London: Columbus, 1987:136, 140-3.
      • Jane Jackson (dir). Sex Change - Shock! Horror! Probe. Scr: Kristiene Clarke, with Mark Rees and others. UK TV Channel 4 50 mins 1989.
      • Mark Rees. "Becoming a man: The personal account of a Female-to-Male Transsexual". In Richard Ekins & Dave King (eds). Blending Genders: Social Aspects of Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing. London & New York: Routledge 1996: 27-38.
      • Mark Rees. Dear Sir or Madam: the autobiography of a female-to-male transsexual. London & New York: Cassell, 1996. Revised as Dear Sir or Madam: A Journey from Female to Male. Tunbridge Wells: Mallard, 2009.
      • Sophie Goodman.  "New hope for transsexuals as MPs move to change the law on birth certificates". The Independent, 23 June 2002.
      • Pat Califia. Sex changes : the politics of transgenderism. San Francisco: Cleis Press 1997. Second edition by Patrick Califia 2003: 178-186.
      • Judith Halberstam. Female Masculinity. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998.155-6
      • Mark Rees. "Reproaching opponents of Gender Recognition Act". Church Times, 02 Nov 2006.
      • Christine Burns. "Dear Sir or Madam – The New Edition". Just Plain Sense, October 4, 2009.
      • Mark Dalby. "Book Review: Mark Rees, Dear Sir or Madam: A Journey from Female to Male". Modern Church, Jan 2010.
      • Christine Burns.  Pressing Matters, Volume 1.   Kindle, 2013. 
      LGBThistorymonth     LGBTran


      The second self-published autobiography came out in 2009 as the original was by then out of print.   The irony is that now it is fairly easy to buy a copy of the 1996 book on Amazon Marketplace or AbeBooks, but it is very difficult to find a copy of the 2009 version.

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